213 The Hard Way

It’s only so long one can wait with bated breath before exhaling. And with the recent release of The Hard Way, the vaunted reunion album by the hip-hop trio of Warren G., Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg, arrives about five years too late. The West Coast super-group went back to the labs to cook up that classic G Funk-era summertime vibe only to water it down with generic hooks and cliché presentation. And not even Snoop’s trademark drawl, Nate’s omnipresent hooks and Warren’s Regulator flow can elevate this 19-track project that runs about five tracks too long. The album oscillates from tepid fluff ("Groupie Love”) to the old school sound of "Joysticc,” to a randy remake of the late Rick James’ "Mary Jane.” The obligatory Kanye West joint rears its ostentatious head with the mainstream banger "Another Summer.” But even backed by solid production from stalwarts like Battlecat, Josef Leimberg, Hi Tek and DJ Pooh, there is nothing here that vaults The Hard Way into instant classic territory. Bad album? Not quite. But the tang of "been there, heard that” is all over this bad boy. And I doubt that peeps will be holding their breath waiting for any future 213 releases. (TVT)